Pain Behind The Knee When Walking

Pain in the posterior aspect of the knee in most cases develops suddenly as a result of an injury. However in fewer cases, it will develop gradually over time. This pain is manifested in either of the ways below.

  • A generalized pain behind the knee
  • A swelling or a sharp pain that might restrict movement.

Back of the knee pain has various underlying causes which we will discuss below.

1. Bakers Cyst.

A barkers cyst is a fluid filled space behind the knee. This occurs as a result of the inflammation of popliteal bursa behind the knee. This is the commonest cause of pain.

Manifestation: It is manifested by a tender swelling behind the knee which feels like a small water sac. Also tightness and pain.

Aggravating factors: The pain is aggravated by knee actions such as flexing and extending the knee.

Time of onset: Usually comes gradually but in most cases its triggered by a blow behind the knee.

Treatment: Apply cold pressure such as ice. Exercises, aspiration, electrotherapy and sometimes surgery to drain the fluid.

2. Posterior Cartilage/ Meniscus Tear

This is a tear of the cartilage lining the knee joint posterior.

Symptoms: Pain behind the knee, a swelling, knee lock, stiff joint/ immovable to some extent.

Aggravating factors: Walking, running, jumping squatting. Any knee joint motor activity.

Onset: Can either be gradual with age (wear and tear) or sudden as in a sudden force through the knee.

Management: Knee exercises, PRICE therapy. PRICE stands for Protect Rest Ice Compression Elevation. In protection, you protect the knee, or prevent it from further injury, Rest- allows the knee to heal by avoiding aggravating factors, Ice- Apply ice/cold treatment to reduce inflammation, Compression- Apply pressure around the joint to reduce the swelling, Elevation- Rising the leg above the cardiac level. It reduces swelling.

Recovery: The meniscus has a poor blood supply hence recovery takes several months.

3. Arthritis

Arthritis is a common condition in the elderly. Its caused a gradual wear and or inflammation.

Symptoms: Stiff knee especially after the knee has been immobile for long, pain, reduced motor activity, a crackling sound when the joint extends or flexes.

Onset: Comes with age. mostly over the age of 50.

Treatment: Perform knee exercises, knee bracing, heat treatment, ice treatment, keen diet, gel knee pads, use cushioned footwear,use of anti inflammatory drugs.

Recovery: Bone wear has no repair. Pain management is the major therapy.

4. Knee Sprain

This is the injury done on a ligament due to overstretching or tear force.

Symptoms: Generalized pain, joint swelling, bruising and limited movement.

Aggravating factors: Any physical activity involving knee movement.

Onset: Mainly a sudden twist through the knee. Common in footballers injury.

Treatment: PRICE, performing exercises ( consult a physiotherapist) , Knee brace, Tubigrip ( Tubigrip is a type of elastic tubular bandage that is worn around joints to provide a firm but comfortable compression)

Recovery: Healing depends with the degree and severity of injury. Generally it takes between two weeks to three months to full heal.

NOTE: Before doing any exercises after a knee injury, you should consult a physiotherapist to advice on the safe exercise practices.

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